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Downtown Cleveland special improvement district up for renewal


Starting in October, Downtown Cleveland property owners will be asked to sign a petition to extend downtown Cleveland's special improvement district for another five years.

In 2005, downtown Cleveland established a special improvement district where downtown property owners voluntarily "taxed" themselves in order to receive enhanced services such as cleaning, safety and marketing.  This lead to the creation of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance and the Clean and Safe program.

The assessment ends at the end of 2010, so proponents will begin a petition signing campaign in October in order to get it renewed for 2011 through 2015.  Downtown property owners representing more than 60 percent of frontage must sign the petition for the program to continue.

Several forums have been held this week to discuss the progress of the Special Improvement District (SID) so far and what its focus will be over the next five years if it's renewed.

The biggest impact of the SID has been the Clean and Safe workers that you see around downtown, cleaning sidewalks and riding bikes, assisting Cleveland police with security and making residents and visitors feel more safe.  The focus for the next five years will be to continue the success of the Clean and Safe program while focusing on other areas that downtown property owners, businesses, employees and residents have said are important to them.

An online satisfaction survey showed that these groups give the SID a B+, which is higher than the average people have given SIDs in other cities.  But survey respondents said that moving forward, they want the SID to focus more on business development and marketing.  They're looking for small businesses to fill vacant storefronts, particularly along Euclid Avenue, and for marketing that improves downtown's image and invites for customers to downtown businesses. 

The types of businesses that the SID will probably focus on are small, entrepreneurial businesses, such as technology companies or small retail operations, or successful businesses operating in the suburbs that may be interested in opening a location downtown.  The SID would work to help these businesses with support in getting established and making connections once they're here.

The assessment raises about $3.4 million a year for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.  The proposal for the next five years will see the majority of the assessment (about $2.4 million) going towards the Clean and Safe program, which is similar to what's being spent on the program now.  About $700,000 will go towards business development and marketing.  The rest goes towards management and administrative.

The SID assessment is not the only source of income for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.  The DCA also gets about $2 million through donations from foundations and other supporting groups.

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